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DECATUR — Decatur pastor Jose L. Aboytes, 60, pleaded guilty Wednesday to one Class X felony count of predatory criminal sexual assault of a child, ending his trial on charges he raped and sexually abused a girl younger than 13 from his congregation. 

The sentencing hearing is set for July 11 in Macon County Circuit Court. He faces between six and 60 years in prison, of which he would have to serve at least 85 percent.

The charges involved a girl who attended Palabra Miel Hispanic Church, and the offenses reportedly happened between September 2015 and September 2016.

Messages seeking comment from Aboytes' defense attorney, Todd Ringel, and Assistant State's Attorney Kate Kurtz were not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.

The plea deal came on the third day of what was anticipated to be a four-day trial. As part of the deal, four counts of aggravated criminal sexual abuse and two counts of criminal sexual assault were dismissed, according to court records.

Opening the trial Tuesday, Kurtz described Aboytes, who served as an assistant pastor at the church, as using the friendly nature of the congregation to prey on the child.

Kurtz described a pattern of sexual assault that started with touching and escalated to groping and, after Aboytes had picked up the child once from her home on the pretense of taking her to the park, ended with rape.

She said Aboytes wrote intimate letters to the child and persuaded her to send him erotic pictures of herself — pictures the girl’s parents eventually discovered that prompted them to call police.

In his opening remarks, Ringel had said those letters, translated from the native Spanish of both Aboytes and the girl, were open to widespread interpretation as to what they meant and the language couldn't be taken at face value.

Ringel said outside of the letters, the prosecution had little else but the word of the child as to what happened, and could offer no physical evidence to support the charge.


2019 mug shots from the Herald & Review

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Contact Kennedy Nolen at (217) 421-6985. Follow her on Twitter: @KNolenWrites

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